How has it helped my organization?
What we do with it is we've taken a very lengthy deployment process and we have shrunk it from what was a months-long process down to a matter of hours.
We've also had benefits with configuration consistency because the machine is doing it for us. We aren't manually typing in, editing config files, and all that.
Security, it's helped us integrate other products like VMware's NSX product, so we have the east-west traffic security rather than just north-south. The cost savings that we have with the man hours that used to be sunk into actually deploying these VMs is a huge savings for us.
What needs improvement?
I spend a lot of time talking with some of the product's team members making requests. Machine prefix, which is what they call their naming scheme, I wish that it was more flexible. Right now, you're relying on creating your own system and leveraging vRealize Orchestrator to handle it if you have something more complex than their basic needs, which is just the name and then the number at the end.
Version control for blueprints: As it stands, you can make any changes you want. There's no record of it. Everything else is pretty much how I want it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I will say the VRA has its problems. We have had issues with stability. We initially deployed on Version 7.1, and there are issues with the high availability feature that it had. It forced you to manually failover the database, and so it wasn't an actually automated HA feature. That has been solved in 7.3. I haven't seen any issues with it, yet.
I haven't had it deployed for very long, but just like small things like selecting stuff, the blueprint design campus, I've noticed, has a really bad memory leak, so it can be hard to edit blueprints. Overall, as long as you know how to administer the IaaS boxes, you should be good to go.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It gets a rap for being an incredibly complex product to deploy, specifically because it's a highly scalable solution. You have to know how to set up all these different pieces, deploy Windows boxes, set up IaaS, configure your load balancers, whether that's in NSX or, say, an F5, which is what we use, or whatever else you're going to use.
How is customer service and technical support?
Technical support is usually pretty good. I've gotten hot fixes turned around in two or three days. Sometimes, it's very tough because of how complex a product is, to know where exactly the problem lies, so it's nice to have VMware support to lean back on whenever that's the case.
How was the initial setup?
It's very not straightforward. Perspective: I just deployed the newest version 7.3. It took me about a week total, just a solid 40 hours of work, to get it deployed fully. There are issues with some of the documentation. Mostly, it was fine, but there's a bug with the installation wizard that I spent a long time trying to sludge through by myself, but after opening a support case, they were able to get it taken care of really quickly.
What other advice do I have?
It has a long way to go still but, for what it does, it does well and it helps enable you. Even if there are a lot of problems with the product itself that still need to be fixed, I don't think that they outweigh the actual business value that you'll get by having the product if you do a lot of deployments or if you need to provide access to developers. There's a whole myriad of cases that you could be using it for. If it falls within one of those cases, it can be extremely helpful.